We speak with Juan Felipe Herrera, who has begun his term as the 21st poet laureate of the United States. A son of Mexican migrant farmworkers, Herrera is the first Latino poet laureate of the United States. Written in both English and Spanish, his work has been celebrated over the past four decades for its energy, humor, emotion and ability to capture the consciousness of a cross-section of America. In announcing Herrera’s appointment, Library of Congress Director James H. Billington said, “I see in Herrera’s poems the work of an American original—work that takes the sublimity and largesse of 'Leaves of Grass' and expands upon it. His poems … champion voices and traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective, which is a vital part of our larger American identity." Herrera is the author of 28 books, including "187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border" and, mostly recently, "Notes on the Assemblage." He is a past winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. Herrera discusses the role of poets in social movements, and reads his poem "Ayotzinapa," about the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero, Mexico.
When disaster strikes, who profits? That’s the question asked by journalist Antony Loewenstein in his new book, “Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe.” Traveling across the globe, Loewenstein examines how companies such as G4S, Serco and Halliburton are cashing in on calamity, and describes how they are deploying for-profit private contractors to war zones and building for-profit private detention facilities to warehouse refugees, prisoners and asylum seekers. Recently, Loewenstein teamed up with filmmaker Thor Neureiter for a documentary by the same name that chronicles how international aid and investment has impacted communities in Haiti, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and beyond.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a coalition of civil society organizations known as the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. The move comes nearly five years after a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire, sparking the Arab Spring that included the ouster of Tunisia’s longtime, U.S.-backed dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "The quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 when the democratization process was in danger of collapsing as a result of political assassinations and widespread social unrest. It established an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war," said Kaci Kullmann Five, Norwegian Nobel Committee chair. The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is composed of four organizations: the Tunisian General Labour Union; the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers. The committee said it hopes its recognition of the quartet’s achievements will "serve as an example that will be followed by other countries." We speak with Sarah Chayes, senior associate of the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She writes about Tunisia in her recent book, "Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security."
- Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Tunisian Civil Society Organizations
- McCarthy Withdraws from House Speaker Race; Congress in Disarray
- U.S. General Pushes to Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
- Doctors Without Borders: 24 Staffers Still Missing After U.S. Strike
- Obama Ends $500 Million Program to Train and Arm Syrian Rebels
- Syria: Iranian General Advising Assad Killed by ISIL
- Documents: Chilean Dictator Pinochet Ordered 1976 Murder on U.S. Soil
- Report: "Systemic" Overpolluting by Car Manufacturers
- Japan: Kids Near Fukushima 20-50 Times Higher Rates of Thyroid Cancer
- ACLU: Benton County, WA, Operating "Modern-Day Debtors' Prison"
- South Carolina: Walter Scott's Family Settles for $6.5 Million
- Ben Carson: Holocaust Might Have Been Avoided If Jews Had Guns
- Michigan: Flint to Return to Detroit Water amid Contamination Scandal
Legendary musician Patti Smith performs her song "My Blakean Year" in the Democracy Now! studio and talks about the influence of poet William Blake (1757–1827). We also air a recording of Smith singing a version of Blake’s poem "The Tyger." Smith has long been praised for mixing poetry and rock music.
Beside being known for her music and writing, Patti Smith has been a longtime activist, performing regularly at antiwar rallies and political benefits. She has also written songs about former Guantánamo prisoner Murat Kurnaz and Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old college student who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. She talks about these songs and her assessment of the Obama administration.
In a Democracy Now! special, the legendary poet, singer, activist Patti Smith joins us for the hour. Her new memoir "M Train" has just been published. In 2010, her best-selling memoir, "Just Kids," won a National Book Award. "Just Kids" examined her relationship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989. The new memoir focuses in part on Smith’s late husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, who died five years later. Patti Smith is also celebrating the 40th anniversary of "Horses," her landmark debut album, which has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time by Rolling Stone.
- Obama Apologizes to Doctors Without Borders for Deadly Hospital Strike
- Russia Fires Missiles in Syria as U.S. Rejects Cooperation on ISIL
- Yemen: U.S.-Backed, Saudi-Led Airstrike Kills 23 at Wedding Party
- Coast Guard Ends Search for Survivors from Sunken El Faro
- CA Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Law to Require 50% Renewable Energy by 2030
- Volkswagen CEO to Testify to Congress He Knew of Emissions Cheating
- GOP-Led House Creates Special Committee to Probe Planned Parenthood
- Senate Democrats Renew Push for Gun Control Legislation
- CIA Sued over Documents on Retired U.S.-Trained Salvadoran Officer
- FIFA President and Top Officials Suspended amid Swiss Investigation
- Hillary Clinton Comes Out Against Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Rupert Murdoch Suggests Obama is Not a "Real Black President"
- Review Board: NYPD Officer Slammed James Blake with "Excessive Force"
- Belarusian Writer Svetlana Alexievich Wins Nobel Prize in Literature
A new report by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal has documented hundreds of cases of Palestinian rights activists in the United States being harassed, disciplined, fired, sued, censored or threatened for their advocacy around Palestine. Eighty-five percent of these cases targeted students or scholars. We look at the case of Steven Salaita. Last year, his job offer for a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was withdrawn after he posted tweets harshly critical of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. The school had come under pressure from donors, students, parents and alumni critical of Salaita’s views, with some threatening to withdraw financial support. His case caused a firestorm, with thousands of academics signing petitions calling for Salaita’s reinstatement, several lecturers canceling appearances and the American Association of University Professors calling the school’s actions "inimical to academic freedom and due process." In August, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise resigned after she was implicated in a scandal that involved attempting to hide emails detailing Salaita’s ouster. We speak with Steven Salaita and attorney Maria LaHood, who is representing Salaita in his ongoing lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"Einstein's Definition of Insanity": Father of Slain Reporter on GOP Candidates' Gun Control Remarks
As the United States experiences more than one mass shooting per day, the issue of gun regulation is emerging as a hot topic on the 2016 presidential campaign trail. As Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has vowed to curb gun violence, Republican presidential candidates have refused calls for gun control in the wake of last week’s massacre at Umpqua Community College. Donald Trump told NBC’s Meet the Press that mass shooters are "geniuses in a certain way. They are going to be able to break the system." John Kasich told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, "I don’t think gun control would solve this problem. The deeper issue is alienation. The deeper issue is loneliness." Ben Carson implied that the Oregon shooting victims didn’t do enough to save themselves, saying, "I would not just stand there and let him shoot me." And Jeb Bush seemed to shrug off last week’s mass shooting, saying on Friday afternoon, "stuff happens." We’re joined by Andy Parker, the father of 24-year-old broadcast journalist Alison Parker, who was shot dead on live television in August, and by Arkadi Gerney, senior vice president at the Center for American Progress who formerly worked with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the national coalition, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
On August 26 in Roanoke, Virginia, two journalists were fatally shot on live television during a morning broadcast of the local news station WDBJ. Twenty-four-year-old broadcast journalist Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward died after Vester Flanagan approached the set and began shooting. Flanagan was a former journalist at the station who had been fired two years ago. Flanagan later shot himself. It was the 246th mass shooting in the United States this year. Just over a month later, a gunman named Chris Harper-Mercer opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine people before taking his own life. Later that same day in northern Florida, a gunman killed two people and injured another before taking his own life. Then on Friday, one person died and four others were injured in a shooting in Baltimore—bringing the year’s total of mass shootings to at least 296. We speak with Andy Parker, the father of Alison Parker. Since her death in August, Parker has called for the passage of stronger gun laws. He says he’ll dedicate his life to this fight.
- U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Changes Story on Kunduz Bombing Again
- Doctor Margaret Flowers Arrested at Senate Hearing on Kunduz
- Doctors Without Borders: Location of Bombed Hospital was Well Known
- Iraqi Officials Ask Russia to Launch Airstrikes Against ISIL in Iraq
- Russia, Syria Said to Launch Coordinated Strikes on Opposition
- Israeli Troops Attack Palestinians After Funeral for Teen Shot by IDF
- NYC: Dozens Protest Recent IDF Killings of Palestinian Teens
- Sanders Campaign Apologizes to Pro-Palestinian Activists Ousted from Rally
- Justice Department to Release 6,000 Prisoners
- Mother of Umpqua College Shooter Kept Multiple Guns at Home
- Carson on Oregon: "I Would Not Just Stand There and Let Him Shoot Me"
- Tennessee: 11-Year-Old Charged in Fatal Shooting of 8-Year-Old
- Kiesha Jenkins Becomes 20th Transgender Woman Murdered This Year
- Montana Judge Blocks Use of Execution Drug Pentobarbital; Texas Executes Man Using Same Drug
- Woman Sues Bill Cosby, Saying He Sexually Assaulted Her in 2008
The legendary Detroit activist and philosopher Grace Lee Boggs died Monday at the age of 100. She was born in Rhode Island in 1915 to Chinese immigrant parents. She would go on to become deeply involved with the civil rights, black power, labor, environmental justice and feminist movements. Over the past decade Grace Lee Boggs was a frequent guest on Democracy Now! Her profile grew in 2013 with the release of the Peabody Award-winning documentary “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.” The film captures Boggs’ remarkable life story from collaborating with C.L.R. James to organizing with Malcolm X to starting Detroit Summer. We air interviews of Boggs on Democracy Now!, excepts from the documentary and speak to her close friend and caretaker Alice Jennings.
The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations reached an agreement Monday on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest regional trade accord in history. The agreement has been negotiated for eight years in secret and will encompass 40 percent of the global economy. The secret 30-chapter text has still not been made public, although sections of draft text have been leaked by WikiLeaks during the negotiations. Congress will have at least 90 days to review the TPP before President Obama can sign it. The Senate granted Obama approval to fast-track the measure and present the agreement to Congress for a yes-or-no vote with no amendments allowed. During Senate hearings in April, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders fought fast track, warning that the American people need time to understand the TPP. He issued a statement Monday saying, “I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs. Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense." Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, joins us to discuss TPP.
The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations reached an agreement Monday on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest regional trade accord in history. The agreement has been negotiated for eight years in secret and will encompass 40 percent of the global economy. Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders issued a statement calling TPP "disastrous" and vowed to fight it in Congress. One sticking point on the TPP had been the so-called death sentence clause, extending drug company monopolies on medicines. The United States and drug companies had pressed for longer monopolies on new biotech drugs, while multiple countries opposed the push, saying it could deny life-saving medicines to patients who cannot afford high prices. The compromise reportedly includes monopolies of between five and eight years. Last week in Atlanta, Zahara Heckscher, a cancer patient, disrupted TPP negotiations and was arrested as she demanded access to the secret text to see whether it includes a "death sentence clause." Heckscher joins us to talk about her arrest and why she says "it would actually condemn women to death."
- U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim Nations Reach Deal on TPP
- U.S. Troops Not Under Attack Before Airstrike on Kunduz Hospital
- U.N.: U.S. Airstrike on Kunduz Hospital in Afghanistan Could Be War Crime
- Russia to Send "Volunteer" Ground Troops to Syria
- Israeli Soldiers Kill 2 Palestinian Teenagers in Less Than 24 Hours
- North Korea Releases Detained South Korean NYU Student
- 13 People Have Died in "Once-in-a-Millennium" Flooding in Carolinas
- U.S. Coast Guard: Cargo Ship El Faro Sank with 33 on Board
- China: 11 Die in Unexpectedly Strong Typhoon
- Justice Department to Settle with BP for $20.8B over Deepwater Spill
- California Governor Signs "Right-to-Die" Legislation
- Edward Snowden Says He's Volunteered to Go to Prison in Plea Deal
- Germany: Activists Use Drone to Drop Fliers Over NSA Complex
- Air France Executives Flee Protest over Massive Layoffs
- DN!'s Renée Feltz Wins Newswomen's Club of New York Award
- Legendary Detroit Activist Grace Lee Boggs Dies at 100
Ahead of Canada’s October 19 elections, a coalition of Canadian labor, indigenous rights, climate justice, anti-poverty and migrant rights organizations have released The Leap Manifesto, a plan to transition away from fossil fuels to a 100 percent clean economy by the middle of this century. “A lot of the polling in Canada is showing that people don’t want just gradual, incremental change,” says Naomi Klein, author of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.” “They’re ready for more dramatic change. And this is why we’re seeing more support for The Leap Manifesto. Stephen Harper is an incredibly unpopular prime minister, and because of that, there are a lot of people who are going to be voting strategically for whoever they believe has the best chance of beating Harper, because there’s a lot of concern about splitting the vote.” We speak with Klein and Avi Lewis, the duo behind the new climate change documentary, "This Changes Everything," about the effort, as well as Canadian politics and the move by Shell against drilling in the Arctic.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is calling this weekend’s torrential rainfall that has triggered flooding and led to eight deaths in the Carolinas a once-in-a-millennium downpour. According to the National Weather Service, the storm had dumped more than 20 inches of rain in parts of central South Carolina since Friday. This month also marks the third anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, one of the most destructive storms in the nation’s history. Researchers say such extreme weather events are becoming more frequent with the effects of climate change, with 2015 on track to be the hottest year in recorded history. In Part Two of our conversation with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis on their new film, "This Changes Everything," we talk about what we can learn from such extreme weather events.
While many Americans believe that the war in Afghanistan is winding down, peace activists and medical aid workers tell a different story. "That really shows how mainstream media has failed to tell the truth to the world," says Dr. Hakim, a medical doctor who has provided humanitarian relief in Afghanistan for the last decade. "The war is going on. It is deteriorating. Both the International Red Cross and the United Nations have reported an increase in civilian deaths over the past few years. So it is getting worse. It is definitely not scaling down. And I think Americans need to know that their taxpayer money is going to a war that is worsening." Doctors Without Borders is calling for an independent investigation of a U.S. airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz that left 22 dead, including 12 staff members and 10 patients, three of them children. We speak with Dr. Hakim, as well as Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, who just returned from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Dr. Gino Strada, co-founder of Emergency, an Italian NGO that provides free medical care to victims of war.